by Samantha Bronkar
Writing an introductory paragraph can be daunting, especially if you try to write it first. Introductions are the first part of the paper, but they do not have to be the first part you write!
You could start by writing your introduction, but you may run into some obstacles, such as:
– not knowing how to introduce a paper you haven’t written yet
– not knowing how to handle a blank document
– not knowing which points you should include in the introduction, and which ones you should leave out
Before you begin to write, choose a working thesis or, in other words, a thesis that certainly may change. As you learn more about your topic, your thesis may become more complex, or you may decide to change your thesis entirely.
Because your initial thesis may change throughout the writing process, writing the introduction first may not be the best approach. If your thesis changes, you may have to rewrite your entire introduction.
Instead, write the body paragraphs—or the detailed argument—first. This process will take more time than writing your introduction, but it will allow you to build your argument fully and freely, without being limited by what you stated in your introduction. And it will save you time on your introduction when it’s time to write it!
Once you finish writing your body paragraphs, you are ready to write your introduction! By the time you finish writing the body of your paper, you can decide what you feel are the most important points of your argument.
You can think of your introduction as a guide for the reader to understand the main points of your argument before moving into the body of your paper. Make sure to include essential background information and key points you will discuss in your argument, now that you know what they are.
Saving the introduction for last can also ensure that your conclusion matches your introduction. While they are not the same exact paragraph, they should identify the same main points. Once you’ve finished up your introduction, you’ve got a complete, unified draft!
Samantha Bronkar is a junior and will be in Prague next fall studying creative writing and visual art.